Expatica news

Pledge to end Brussels suburb language row

18 January 2005

BRUSSELS – Dutch and French-speaking politicians have promised to work together to settle a long-standing dispute over a Brussels commune.

The institutional affairs conference voted unanimously on Monday morning to create a working group to address the issue of electoral reform in Brussels-Hal-Vilvoorde.

Flemish politicians in the commune want it to become a solely Dutch-speaking constituency, with French-speaking parties denied the right to stand in elections.

The issue is controversial because although there are more Dutch than French-speaking Belgians living in BHV, the Flemish are in a minority because of the commune’s large population of voters from other European Union countries.

In addition, the proposals to make the commune a part of Flanders have been judged flawed in some aspects by Belgium’s Arbitration Court and Council of State.

At Monday’s meeting, the conference voted to appoint six French-speaking MPs and six Dutch-speaking MPs to examine the Arbitration Court’s ruling.

Vice Prime Minister Patrick Dewael said the group must first analyse the problems of the situation, according to Flanders and Wallonia, before negotiating a solution.

He argued that the working group should not be rushed to come to conclusions because of the timetable of the parliamentary commission, which is ruling on the question.

Walloon Minister-president Jean-Claude Cauwenberghe has left the commission, stating he doesn’t think the parliament will find a solution.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news